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9 tank stick Surplus Tank Yoke Becomes an Incredible Game Controller

What do you get when you combine surplus military hardware with a computer interface? In this case, probably the beefiest computer game controller you’ve ever seen made out of an old M1 Abrams training simulation’s turret yoke.

This controller functions as a “twisty yoke,” as featured on the Star Wars arcade game from the 1980s. The yoke rotates like a steering wheel, while the handles are able rotate forwards and backwards as well. When originally obtained, this stick weighed in at an incredible 16 pounds, and looked “lovingly used” from the way it was described. Although it could have been repainted, I think the worn yoke looks great, and was obviously less work.

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Besides the rotational motion, each grip features two trigger switches and a thumb controller for six buttons total. In order to push all these signals to the computer, a Teensy 3.1 development board is used as the interface.  As there were some extra pins available on the Teensy, an external switch box was added for whatever other commands are needed for the game.

Although the stick is now mounted on a heavy-duty monitor stand, I imagine something like this would be treasured by anyone building a custom home arcade system.  You would just have to make sure the MDF is up to holding this monstrosity!

Jeremy Cook

Jeremy is an engineer with 10 years experience at his full-time profession, and has a BSME from Clemson University. Outside of work he’s an avid maker and experimenter, building anything that comes into his mind!


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